Is laziness a virtue in Buenos Aires?


Mariano, as you know I am the last person who would ever call someone here lazy. I am infinitely impressed by the schedules that my Argentinean friends keep, while I laze about in bed and work from home. And, I love that after a long hard day at work you are all still more than happy to go out for a drink. That's a culture I can get behind!

Of course, when I'm in the U.S. I get up early, work a full day, and then have all sorts of other responsibilities or obligations, so I do consider my time here as a sort of rest from normal life.


citygirl said:
You know what I find interesting here (specifically in Cap Fed) - for all the perceived slower pace of life in Argentina - I never get a sense of joie de vie here. Next time you are walking down the street - count the number of people smiling or looking happy. (now subtract from that those that are foreigners;)) It's a very small number.
I never understand this view, although plenty of people seem to agree with you. Where's your benchmark of happiness, where people are 100% happy? It sounds a bit disneyesque...

Even in packed 40 degree subtes people exchange exasperated smiles instead of the murderous glances I've seen in other countries.

Considering that in the last couple of decades argentina has had a murderous dictatorship, a painful war with england, hyperinflation and then an econmoic crash that wiped out life savings and financially crippled millions - I'd say people were very happy, all things considered. Just look at how hysterical most of the western world has been over the last year due to a small financial hiccup. Doom and gloom everywhere you look, every media outlet heralding the apocalypse. People seem a lot happier here, despite infinitely more difficult circumstances.

I don't find people lazy either. How many people on this forum work in an argentine company, or work with porteños all day?


I think Argentine are not lazy but unmotivated with the meager salaries they earn and the little opportunities they have to, for example buy their homes, trust the police, etc. It is a vicious circle unfortunately.

There was a time, when my grandparents were young, where people were hard working, the policeman was a sir, streets were clean, there were no drugs, public schools were the best to go, being able to go to public university was almost a honor, people would buy their homes, and were able to save, you would not see homeless in the streets and everybody worked to build a country.

My generation was not this lucky: corruption and greed took over all democratic governments. I am not pro military though.

I work 3 jobs, 16 hours a day 7 days a week, see, I do my part, I work and in my mid 30´s I still couldn´t save enough to buy my own place. Shoot and tell me how lazy I am :)


JP - Not sure I have a Disneyesque view point. Just pointing out that my experiences here tend to be (with Porteños) that there is always something wrong. I'm not saying that everyone here is miserable all the time but that the cultural norm is perhaps to focus a bit more on the negative. Not sure I can blame them given the last 50 years or so.

Again, it's just an observation. FWIW - people outside of Cap Fed generally seem happier.

And Nikad - great post. It is what I was trying to express in an earlier post but you did a much better job!


Sorry, that probably sounded a bit rude.

I really don't see all this misery though. BA always seems fairly smiley to me. But maybe that just means I've lived in even more miserable cities...


Nikad, you are not the norm from my experiences of employing Porteños. Out of somewhere around 20 programmers that I have employed directly, or contracted with another company to use exclusivley, I have found exactly 2 that I have been able to depend on for consistently giving me between 35 and 40 hours a week. As long as there is not a holiday, of which I think there are roughly twice as many "work holidays" as there are in the States (unless you're talking banking holidays in the States!). If I'm really in a bad situation, I can usually coax as much as 45 or 50 hours for one week, maybe working an extra day on the weekend.

When I first came here to employ people, I contracted with a local company to provide a team of programmers. I found that they were routinely clocking between 25 and 35 hours every week. When I visited the place, I would invariably find one or more of my guys at someone else's desk listening to music or chatting about the futbol game or what have you. Long lunches. Continuous errands that had to be run (and most of these, I'm sure, legitimate. There are often no easy ways to get something done and it requires sometimes hours waiting in line). Sick. Vacation. Holiday.

This is one of those trade-off things that people from other cultures need to be cognizant of, and deal with. Argentinos for the most part simply care more about their family, friends and enjoying life than work. It's not that it's a laziness, it's a different focus, and there are very obviously good things to be said about it.

I know also that lack of opportunity, as Nikad and someone else posted previously, is certainly a problem. I can't imagine not having access to credit to buy a house or apartment, for example. I can't imagine being 25, say, and having to provide a guarantee from a property that I or a relative own in order to rent something decent. Heavy taxes and labor-favored (instead of market-favored) laws make it difficult to start a business and hire employees unless you work in the black and take risks.

I came for the good technical training that most programmers have here and the difference in labor prices between the States and Argentina. I have had a very hard time doing business here, at least at first, because of the regulations and figuring out how to get things done to a good enough level of satisfaction. I'm trying to bring money to Argentina workers, but it's almost like the government doesn't want it to happen.

I am still here because it is workable and I like the personal freedoms that Argentine society gives one. But there are always tradeoffs in where you are living because nowhere is perfect.


I know it is very difficult when you have to hire locals, eventually you find the right people, but there are flaky programmers and desgners all over the world. I managed several projects for clients and had Argentine, Indian, Ukranian vanish. I for one like to work, work on what I like and work hard, eventually it will pay off, but let´s face it, you really have to enjoy what you do. Local labor laws, seem to be against workers nowadays... who wants to hire people with all the hassle it is, the unions, etc???


Most labor laws, anywhere in the world, are supposed to "help" the worker but really end up hurting them more so.

And I agree about finding flaky programmers in all parts of the world. I've worked with Indians before and it was very painful on a number of levels. There are tradeoffs everywhere, but the most important thing in a programmer is that he know his stuff, and that's why we choose Argentina. I am very impresed with the level of developers, as far as their knowledge and training go. I've found it easier here to find people that seem like they are going to work than I could in the States, and even in the States you have to go through a number of guys to get one who knows his stuff.

And yeah, you sound like me as far as the work ethic goes. Find something you like and work your ass off at it. I work every day myself, usually on the order of 12-14 hours, without fail. My guys don't understand :) They think I'm nuts...and maybe I am!

Attorney in BA

Delfina said:
for some people laziness can be a virtue... check the "estatales", for example,
For the "estatales" (State employed workers) laziness is not only a virtue, its a job requirement (no kidding); if they work too fast the co-workers will complain because they make them look lazy.


I think that it is not so much laziness that we North Americans observe here but rather a lot of "busy, misplaced energy". That is, I often see people "very busy" doing things very inefficiently which results in a lot of frantic activity while getting little done. For example, constantly honking the horn in traffic looks and sounds really good (as if the driver needs to hurry up and get somewhere); yet, upon arrival, the driver is likely to take his time doing whatever he wanted to do anyway! Hence, why the hurry for nothing? I just think all of these things are part of the culture. Not lazy.....just grossly inefficient from a time management point of view. I don't think Argentines in general really want a "calm and ordered life". It would just be too "counterculture." It really is more of a more organized chaos they want. Conversely, the US is a land of hyper productivity which just leaves people completely exhausted at the end of the day. Do you know how tiresome it is to work all day and then go to the grocery only to have to ponder which of 50 boxes of cereal to buy?
In spite of all this, I do think the Argentine sense of humor is one of the best in the world. I don't think US citizens would be laughing at all if they had been dealt even a tenth of the adversity that the Argentines have seen in the last decades.